The City of Brotherly Love
Quaker Penn named the city Philadelphia, which is Greek for brotherly love (from philos, "love" or "friendship", and adelphos, "brother"). As a Quaker, Penn had experienced religious persecution and wanted his colony to be a place where anyone could worship freely. This especially meant a lot to us!
This blog took us a few days to write – so much history in Philly!!!
Walking through Philadelphia today sure beat history class (no offense Mr. Miller – we love you!) Today we got to step outside the textbooks and into the past when visiting the birthplace of America. We got to see where the Constitution was signed, where Betsy Ross lived and where Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment.
Independence National Historic Park
We started our day right where America started: at Independence National Historic Park. The park is several blocks and with some 20 historic buildings, including Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed.
We strolled over to the Liberty Bell, Philly's most famous landmark, the bell was made in England in 1751 but cracked for the first time after only a few years. After it was recast, it was the official bell of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), was rung in celebration of the Declaration of Independence and eventually was adopted as the symbol of the abolition movement.
ABOLITION MOVEMENT: The goal of the abolitionist movement was the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation. Interesting Fact: We discovered that Hercules, a member of the Mount Vernon enslaved community, was a great chef, and cooked for George Washington. Washington brought Hercules from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia to live and work in the presidential household. Hercules, however, later ran away, one of the few instances of a member of Mount Vernon’s enslaved community successfully escaping during Washington's lifetime.
We quickly found out that as the city was revamping the Liberty Bell’s home, they unknowingly unearthed George Washington’s slave quarters – so that too is a landmark to visit. Which was a VERY controversial topic. Preserve the findings and make it an exhibit – or destroy and build right over it. They decided to preserve it – thank goodness! The underground passageway is just steps from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It was designed so Washington's guests would not see slaves as they slipped in and out of the main house. They did make it part of the exhibit and the quarters have been restored and protected.
After checking out the Liberty Bell, we headed across the street to Independence Hall. Independence Hall is the building where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. We hiked around and saw the other brick buildings that make up the most historic square mile in America. As we wandered among the buildings, we couldn’t help think about folks in Revolution-era dress leading games on the lawn, demonstrating how to write with a quill pen or other colonial pursuits.
Reading Terminal Market
With all this walking we got really hungry so we went to another Philadelphia hotspot: Reading Terminal Market. Opened in 1892 as a train shed for the Reading Railroad, this thriving farmer's market had a feast for the eyes as well as the belly. On our table we had, Indian, German, Italian and of course ‘Phill-ian’ cheese steaksJ
US MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…..It all started on April 2, 1792. George Washington was President of the United States, and Philadelphia was the capital city. That's also the day when Congress decided what kind of money the country would use and created a national Mint to make it. The United States Mint was built in Philadelphia, the first federal building constructed under the nation's new Constitution. Back then, coins were the main form of money. Paper money wasn't used by everyone and there were no credit cards, so it was important to our nation's growth for us to be able to make our own coins.
It was wild to see all the ‘blank’ pennies in large bins (today must have been penny making day). Whoever said pennies are useless, never went to The Mint! We had some fun with our change in our pockets – we pulled them out and compared the dates they were made with dates in history. We had great conversations about who in history may have held our coins. Most of ours were from the 90’s but we did have a few from 1969! The building that now houses the United States Mint at Philadelphia (the fourth in that city) is the largest Mint building of them all. Currently The Mint makes circulating coins, commemorative coins, coin dies, and uncirculated coin sets. Designs and models are created here in Philly!
National Constitution Hall – White House Exhibit The National Constitution Center is a huge part of Historic Philadelphia. Here we explored the history and relevance of the Constitution, celebrated our freedoms, and embraced the story of "We the People." We really enjoyed the “Headed to the White House” exhibit. It engaged all of us in the election process. We ‘Joined the race, earned the nomination and won the election’!
Our dad graduated from Villanova University in 1994 so went ventured to campus and step into his past for a bit. We started at the chapel for 12 o’clock mass – dad said it was routine for him and his friends to attend mass weekly. He said it helped them “stay on track” in an environment where you can get lost quickly. Of course we had to show our wildcat pride and go into the bookstore for some spiritwear. After that we toured the church – it was massive compared to the chapel. Interesting fact, they buried their former priests and professors in the yard near the church. We also saw dad’s dorm and the student center. There was a little Christmas sale going on so we supported the students and bought emoji pillows (poopJ), Band t-shirts and hand drawn apparel (Abe Lincoln – mom’s favorite) ! We also entered a few raffles – we hope to win! Fun Facts: Villanova was founded in 1842 by the Order of St. Augustine. Villanova’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition is the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University’s six colleges.
We decided to run the “Rocky Steps” so we set out for Fairmount Park (4,180 acres) –the largest landscaped park in the U.S. The "Mount" for which the park was named is the rise on which the museum stands.
Fairmount Park was the site of the Centennial Exposition of 1876, and several buildings from that earlier fair still stand, like Memorial Hall. Fairmont is the world's largest park and has several million trees; the oldest zoo in the U.S.; Boathouse Row; cherry blossoms and Robin Hood Dell.
We ‘parked’ in front of the “Rocky Steps” — better known as the Art Museum Steps. We reenacted “Rocky” and ran up the steps like he did in the movie. Our parents said it’s a ‘rite of passage’ when in Philly.
The Rocky Steps
As famous as the statue itself is, the stairs leading to the East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, aka “The Rocky Steps,” may be even more famous. In fact, they’ve been declared the second most famous movie filming location in the entire world(!!).
Making the iconic trip up the steps is regarded as a symbol of perseverance and determination.
Once we reached the top and mimicked Rocky’s triumphant celebration, we saw a breathtaking view of the scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Philadelphia skyline.
The Rocky Statue
One of Philadelphia’s most famous pieces of public art is a bigger-than-life boxer… literally. Originally created for Rocky III, the sculpture is now a real-life monument to a hero. The fictional Rocky Balboa of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies was immortalized in bronze in 1980. After filming for the movie completed, Stallone donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia.
The statue is located at the bottom of the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; we got a photo with Rocky Balboa himself.
PHEW! And we didn’t even see the whole city. If you are wondering if you should visit this place - the answer is YES YES YES!!!!